NATO-Israel cooperation, will the Arabs react?

If Israel succeeds in joining NATO, its regional belligerency would be backed by the collective strength of the entire alliance. Before that happens, will the Arabs react?

Israel wants to be a member of NATO. It no longer looks down its nose at military alliances. It no longer wants to stay away from Western military arrangements. It wants in.

A majority of Israelis believe NATO membership would boost Israel’s security as well as NATO’s strategic power. Interestingly enough, there has been no Arab reaction to Israel’s desire to join NATO, no Arab attempt to block the move, and no preparations to deal with its consequences.

Israel and NATO have grown closer over the past decade or so. In 2000, NATO expanded its Mediterranean Dialogue through talks with seven countries from the Middle East and North Africa; namely, Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania. In 2004, NATO- Mediterranean talks were held under the name “Partnership for Peace”. Six new countries were included in the new dialogue: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Israel, in particular, was eager to use every opportunity the Partnership for Peace had to offer.

On 24 February 2005, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer became NATO’s first secretary-general to visit Israel. In the following month, NATO and Israel held their first joint military drills in the Red Sea. Within weeks, a flotilla of six NATO ships called on the Israeli port of Eilat. Israel (and Jordan) also took part for the first time in joint military drills held within the Partnership for Peace programme in Macedonia in the former Yugoslavia in February 2005.

According to the UK-based Jane’s military magazine, Israel’s “geopolitical position” provided NATO with a foreign base to defend the West, while NATO’s military and economic might enhanced the security and economic potential of the “host country”. Read more of this post

Israel: Global NATO’s 29th Member

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Rick Rozoff | As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is pressuring its 28 member states and dozens of partnership affiliates on five continents to contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan, the Jerusalem Post reported on January 13 that “Israel is launching a diplomatic initiative in an effort to influence the outcome of NATO’s new Strategic Concept which is currently under review by a team of experts led by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.” [1]

NATO is crafting its updated Strategic Concept to replace that last formulated in 1999, the year of the military bloc’s expansion into Eastern Europe and its first full-fledged war, the 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Madeleine Albright, arguably the individual most publicly identified with orchestrating both NATO’s absorption of three former Warsaw Pact members, including her native Czech Republic, and in launching Operation Allied Force, co-chairs NATO’s Group of Experts with Jeroen van der Veer, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell until June of 2009.

In addition, “To ensure close coordination between the Group of Experts and NATO Headquarters, the Secretary General has designated a small NATO team lead by Dr. Jamie Shea, head of Policy Planning Unit, to function as a secretariat and staff support.” [2] Shea was NATO spokesman in 1999 and is now Director of Policy Planning in the Private Office of the Secretary General at NATO Headquarters.

Last October 1 NATO and Lloyd’s of London (“the world’s leading insurance market” in its own words) co-organized a conference in London to unveil and promote the new Strategic Concept. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of NATO and Lloyd’s chairman Lord Peter Levene delivered the major addresses.

Host Levene conjured up “a myriad of determined and deadly threats” that required NATO intervention worldwide and Rasmussen itemized no fewer than eighteen of those – none remotely resembling a military attack on or challenge to a single member state. [3]

Recently Madeleine Albright has been traveling to several European capitals to preside over a series of seminars on the updated Strategic Concept and the latest of those, in Oslo, Norway on January 13, was attended by officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

In preparation for the above meeting “Several weeks ago, a former senior Israeli diplomat met privately with Albright to discuss Israeli interests in the concept that is under review.” [4] Read more of this post

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